How to Place an IV Catheter in Cats


Placing an IV catheter in cats is a critical skill that every veterinarian should master. This procedure allows for the administration of fluids, medications, and blood products directly into the cat’s bloodstream. It is commonly performed during surgeries, emergency situations, or for long-term treatments. In this blog post, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to properly place an IV catheter in cats to ensure a successful and safe procedure.

Step 1: Gather the necessary supplies

Before starting the procedure, make sure you have all the required supplies within reach:

  • IV catheter
  • Clipper
  • Antiseptic solution
  • Gauze pads
  • Tourniquet
  • IV extension set
  • Adhesive bandage

Step 2: Prepare the cat and the environment

Place the cat on an examination table and secure it properly to ensure both its safety and your own. Ensure that there is adequate lighting and a clean, sterile working area. Wash your hands thoroughly and put on clean gloves.

Step 3: Choose the appropriate site for catheter placement

Typically, the preferred site for IV catheter placement in cats is the cephalic vein, located on the front leg. To prepare the site, use clippers to remove the fur around the chosen area. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic solution and allow it to dry.

Step 4: Prepare the IV catheter

Take the IV catheter and assemble the extension set if necessary. Ensure that the catheter is clear of any clots, debris, or air bubbles. Fill a flush syringe with sterile saline solution and attach it to the extension set.

Step 5: Insert the IV catheter

Gently place a tourniquet above the site to temporarily impede blood flow. This will make the vein more visible and easier to access. With a bevel-up technique, carefully insert the catheter into the vein at a shallow angle. Once the catheter is in, remove the tourniquet and advance the catheter further into the vein.

Step 6: Confirm proper catheter placement

Verify that the catheter is correctly placed within the vein by observing a blood return through the extension set. Gently flush the catheter with sterile saline solution to ensure its patency.

Step 7: Secure the catheter and provide post-placement care

Using a sterile adhesive bandage, secure the catheter in place to prevent accidental dislodgment. Label the catheter with the date, time, and your initials. Finally, provide appropriate post-placement care, such as covering the site with a sterile dressing and monitoring the catheter regularly for signs of complications.


Placing an IV catheter in cats is a vital skill for veterinarians and veterinary technicians. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure a successful and safe procedure. Remember to always prioritize the well-being of the cat and maintain strict sterility throughout the process.

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